Winter 2009 - Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health



Winter 2009 - Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health
winter 2009
Off-road or
Vehicles Pose
Safety Risks
Message from the Director
Welcome to the winter 2009 issue of Pennsylvania Rural Health. As I write this column, one
of the most hotly-contested and closely-watched presidential elections in a generation recently
has ended as have closely watched state and federal Congressional races. The state of the
economy is front and center in national and local discussions with the nation’s debt at an all
time high and local and personal resources stretched to capacity. In his acceptance speech,
President-elect Barack Obama called for unity in Washington and around the country as the
new administration and the new Congress address a nation grappling with a severe economic
downturn, a potential recession, two wars, and a host of other issues.
It is not an easy time to be an elected official, an employee, a parent, or a rural health advocate. When legislatures convene in January 2009, there will be much to consider and rural
health issues may not be at the center of those discussions. Now is the time for rural health
advocates to act.
Advocacy means “to speak up, to plead the case of another, or to champion a cause.” One
health writer has challenged healthcare advocates to get straight A’s through advocacy, advocacy, advocacy.
Get involved. Get to know your local, state, and federal legislators well. Establish a relationship with them and acquaint yourself with
their staff. Learn the legislative process and understand it well. Keep on top of the issues and be aware of controversial and contentious
areas. Identify fellow advocates and partners in the rural health community, and beyond, with whom you can partner. Remember
that timing is everything.
If you are not able to contact your legislators or don’t feel comfortable talking to legislative staff, there are many ways to advocate for
localized rural health issues. Every time you talk with your organization’s board of directors about a project, every time you assist a
client in finding needed services, every time you speak up in a meeting about the special needs of your community, you are acting as
an advocate.
There are lots of options to be an effective rural health advocate and a number of great ways to become involved. Each of your professional associations has an advocacy or policy section and they are always looking for volunteers to carry a message forward to policy
makers. Rural health advocates also can join their state association and the National Rural Health Association. Both are excellent
sources of advocacy information and can add weight to your message.
Remember that you are an important voice for your community and for healthcare services to rural residents. Let us know how your
state office of rural health can be of service to you and be sure to stay in touch.
Best Regards,
Lisa Davis
Off-road or On-farm, Vehicles Pose Safety Risks
ATV and tractor safety should be paramount while working, playing
Winter 2009
Lisa Davis
Martha Freeman
Features Writer
Terri Klinefelter
Outreach/Magazine Coordinator
S. William Hessert, Jr.
Features Writer
Pennsylvania Rural Health is published 2–3 times
a year by the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health
(PORH). PORH receives support from the Federal
Office of Rural Health Policy of the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services, the Pennsylvania
Department of Health, and the Pennsylvania State
University. PORH is located at the Penn State University Park campus.
Articles may be reprinted without permission; contact Terri Klinefelter at 814-863-8214 or [email protected]
edu for more information. Please address general
correspondence or subscription requests to the
Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health, The Pennsylvania State University, 202 Beecher-Dock House,
University Park, PA 16802.
Get The Lead Out! Lead Poisoning Prevention in Young Children
Together Rx Access Improves Prescription Access for Uninsured Pennsylvanians
Rural Health Conference Celebrates
Accomplishments, Lays Groundwork for Future
2008 State Rural Health Award Recipients
Talking Books Available Statewide 12
Letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Health
This publication is available in alternative media
on request. Penn State is committed to affirmative
action, equal opportunity, and the diversity of its
workforce. U.Ed. HHD 09-031
2009 Rural Health Conference
The 2009 Rural Health Conference planning
committee has announced it will be accepting
nominations for the following awards:
• State Rural Health Leader of the Year
• Community Rural Health Leader of the Year
• Rural Health Program of the Year
• Legislator of the Year
• Rural Health Hero of the Year
These awards will be presented at the 2009
annual Pennsylvania Rural Health Conference,
slated for June 2-3, to individuals who have
made substantial contributions to rural heal
In Pennsylvania. Nomination forms can be
obtained at or by calling
the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health at
✔ |1
2 | Pennsylvania Rural Health Winter 2009
Off-road or On-farm,
Vehicles Pose Safety Risks
ATVs and tractors pose a safety hazard to their operators. Efforts are
underway to educate riders while using them during both work and play.
ATVs pose risk
on farm and trail
As a registered nurse, a lifelong fan of offroad vehicles, and a state-certified all-terrain
vehicle (ATV) instructor, Anita Wagner
knows something about ATV safety for young
riders. To them, including her two children,
ages 11 and 13, she dispenses advice that is
tried, true, and widely available:
• Wear appropriate safety gear including helmet, goggles, and over-the-ankle boots
• Never ride with a passenger
• Ride the right size ATV
• Never ride on pavement
• Take a safety course
• Ride only a familiar ATV on familiar ground
But when it comes to the broader issue of
improving ATV safety for kids everywhere,
Wagner has another idea: “Get to the moms.
Empower the moms. That’s the key to ATV
safety for kids.”
No one disputes that ATVs in Pennsylvania
are dangerous. According to the Consumer
Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 420
people died in ATV accidents in Pennsylvania
between 1982 and 2007—more than in any
other state except California, whose popula-
tion is roughly three times the size. About 20
percent of those fatalities were under age 16.
ATV accidents also account for a lot of trauma
cases in Pennsylvania—2.7 percent of the approximately 25,000 tracked annually by the
Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation,
more than four times as many as either skiing
or horseback riding accidents.
The number of accidents continues to
rise, despite manufacturers’ voluntary safety commitments made to the CPSC, laws
restricting the operation of ATVs on public lands and roads, and the availability of
safety courses. This increase may be due,
in part, to the increased numbers of people
riding ATVs. From September 2 through
September 15 of 2008, twenty-four people
died in ATV accidents nationwide, five of
them under age 16, according to a review of
media reports by the CPSC.
While ATVs are commonly used for hauling
and other chores on farms, it’s widely accepted
that recreational use accounts for most of the
To combat the statistics, Wagner—along
with Sandy Nolan of the Pennsylvania Department of Health—produces and runs
ATV safety programs at the Lycoming
County Fair. Working the fair, Wagner has
noticed that some parents—particularly
mothers—shoo their kids away from the attractive display of ATVs.
“They don’t want their kids to be interested,” said Wagner. “But that’s being in
denial. Your family may never own an ATV,
but your kids’ friends have them. And the sad
part is that when a kid teaches another kid
how to ride an ATV, he doesn’t teach how to
stop, just how to go.”
In fact, a look at a Web site ( run by Concerned Families
for ATV Safety, bears Wagner out. Several
of the fatal accidents described by bereaved
parents happened when a child was with
friends, in some cases when the parents had
no idea ATVs were accessible. Given that
ATVs are so alluring, the best safety strategy is to make sure young people have the
knowledge and skills that will make them
safe riders, Wagner said.
That’s where moms come in.
“My 13-year-old son knows that anytime
he turns the key, he has his helmet on,” she
said, “and he knows that if he doesn’t, I’ll take
the key away.”
Wagner focuses on moms because she
believes they are safety-conscious. “Many
dads think nothing of putting a youngster
on a larger ATV,” she noted, “because so
many dads grew up around them. That’s not
typically true of moms. They’re unfamiliar
so they’re scared, but that means they don’t
have good advice to offer.” When parents
are divorced, Wagner adds, kids will often
have access to ATVs at dad’s house but not
at mom’s. Mom may try to dictate that the
child won’t ride, but she has no control if dad
says “go ahead.” |3
Tractor safety
should be stressed
Wagner believes that if the mom commits herself to learning about ATV riding and ATV safety, she will be able to make realistic safety rules
that her children will follow—a more effective
strategy than the blanket and unrealistic “No!”
She notes that when she gives four-hour courses
on ATV safety for the Pennsylvania Department
of Conservation and Natural Resources, moms
sometimes participate along with their kids.
If empowered moms are crucial to improved
ATV safety for everyone, several impediments
remain, according to Wagner. Among them is
limited availability of instructors and facilities for
safety courses. Ironically, a related impediment is
the voluntary action plan between the major ATV
manufacturers and the CPSC, according to which
children under the age of 15 should ride only 90cc
or smaller ATVs.
The well-intentioned plan has backfired for
two reasons. First, many people—even ATV
dealers—are confused about the voluntary plan
and think it’s a law that kids can’t ride bigger machines. Because of that misunderstanding, some
parents avoid safety courses fearing they will get
in trouble if an instructor finds out their young
teen is riding an adult-size machine. The second
reason is related. Many young teens are riding
big, powerful adult machines because the 90cc
ATVs are too small for them.
In fact, Wagner’s own 13-year-old son, an experienced rider, has had a series of ATVs start4 | Pennsylvania Rural Health Winter 2009
ing with a 50cc vehicle and now rides one that
is 400cc. He has his mom’s permission as long
as he follows the rules. There’s nothing illegal
about it and it’s safer than a 90cc machine that
is too small, Wagner says.
While Wagner has always promoted ATV safety, the need for it was underscored by a family tragedy in 2004. That year, her 19-year-old nephew
was killed when his ATV collided head-on with a
friend’s near Turbotville. Collisions are the number one cause of ATV fatalities.
Given the risks, why does Wagner remain a
fan of ATVs? For one thing, riding is something
she grew up with, and her kids have, too—a fun
activity that promotes family togetherness. Wagner’s family is lucky to have access to a dirt track
spread over eight acres on a family member’s farm
in rural Lycoming County where cousins and
friends can ride together under good supervision.
Another plus is that the privilege of riding keeps
her son, Jacob, motivated in school.
“You can’t keep life from happening to your
kids,” Wagner concludes. “Any sport carries risk.
The question is, are you going to give kids the
skills to participate properly or not?”
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation
and Natural Resources authorizes the training of safety
instructors, among them Anita Wagner. For more information on a safety instructor near you, call DCNR’s
Bureau of Forestry at 717-783-7941, or consult www. DCNR has also approved the safety
course offered by the ATV Safety Institute (ASI). For
more information, call the ATV Safety Institute at
800-887-2887, or go to Fees for
the courses vary, with some offered for free.
Tractors are the number one cause of farm fatalities, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), but they
don’t kill nearly as many people as recreational
ATVs do.
In fact, when it comes to off-road vehicles, fun
seems to be at least twice as dangerous as work.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least 555 people died in ATV
accidents in 2006, while the comparable annual
figure for tractor fatalities is about 250, according to the National Agricultural Safety Database.
The anecdotal evidence bears out the statistics.
Erin McKinney, the farm manager at Tait Farm
near Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, walked away from
an ATV rollover when she was a teen-ager “riding
around the strips” in her native Clearfield County.
Driving Tait Farm’s vintage tractors, she has had
her share of scary moments, but nothing like that.
McKinney knows she has been lucky. There
are about 4.7 million tractors in use on American
farms, but only about half have basic safety gear
like rollover protection for the operator, according to a fact sheet from Penn State Cooperative
Extension. Again, Tait Farm, an organic grower
of fruits and vegetables on about twelve acres, is a
microcosm. One of its two tractors, a Ford built
in the 1970s, has a rollover protection structure
(ROPS). Between 1967 and 1985, tractor manufacturers provided a ROPS option on most models. It was not until 1985 that manufacturers began to voluntarily add ROPS as standard equipment on tractors with more than 20 horsepower,
according to the fact sheet. Tait’s second tractor,
an Allis Chalmers, was built in the 1940s, predating such considerations altogether.
The mechanics of the older tractor, McKinney
explains, are very simple. “Sometimes a cotter pin
slips in the clutch and you’re on a steep hill, and
you can’t get out of gear and you’re just going.”
Many farms are like Tait, still relying on vintage tractors with minimal safety equipment, according to Dennis Murphy, a Distinguished Professor of Agricultural Engineering at Penn State.
In 2006 in Pennsylvania, twenty-three people
died in farming-related accidents, nine of them
(39 percent) in tractor accidents, at least five of
which were rollovers. Meanwhile, the comparable
figures for ATV safety are twenty-five deaths in
Pennsylvania in 2006, with none of those accidents farming-related.
Murphy is an expert in farm safety and particularly vehicle safety. He grew up on a farm and,
like McKinney, says he never personally rolled a
tractor but is nonetheless “lucky to be alive.” He
paused then added, “Every farm kid is lucky to be
alive.” Indeed Murphy’s interest in safety comes
from two circumstances in his personal history.
First, his father was the funeral director in Farmersville, Illinois, where he grew up in the 1950s
and 1960s, and at that time, the funeral director
did double duty as the local ambulance driver.
“I went out on calls with my dad,” he remembered. “I grew up knowing people who
were hurt or killed in farm accidents. My family
picked them up.”
The second circumstance was something that
happened when he was a sophomore in high
school helping his uncle do chores after dark. He
was on a tractor pulling a harrow behind it with
a log chain. The lights were poor on the tractor
and he should have quit, but, as he puts it, he
was “acting macho.”
“I was trying to see where I was turning and I
turned too sharp. The log chain came up on the
wheel and lifted up the whole drag with the spikes
of the harrow. By the time I got it stopped, the
spikes were almost touching me. A second more
and I would have been crushed between them
and the steering wheel of the tractor,” he said.
Murphy got himself out of the predicament
by gingerly backing the tractor until the chain
dropped off the tire. “I never told my parents
about that. I never told anybody,” he said. “I
knew I would be in trouble.”
Murphy’s near catastrophe was atypical. Rollovers are a much bigger threat both to tractor and
ATV operators. Murphy explains why in a fact
sheet published by Penn State Cooperative Extension, “Tractor Overturn Hazards,” available
online at Briefly, the paper notes that a tractor’s center of gravity is higher
than that of other vehicles, making it more susceptible to tipping over.
“If you hitch something higher than the appropriate attachment point—trying to get a little lift
to pull out a post for example—it tips you over
backward,” Murphy explained. “This can happen
whether you’re on an ATV or a tractor.”
With tractors, the installation of a ROPS creates a protective zone around the operator, according to another Penn State Extension fact
sheet, “Rollover Protection for Farm Tractor
Operators,” co-authored by Murphy and
also available online at www.agsafety., which notes that the use of
ROPS with a seatbelt is 99 percent
effective in preventing death or
serious injury in the event of
a rollover. Murphy noted
that few farmers wear
seatbelts, however, and
some won’t install roll
bars because they think
without seatbelts they’re
ineffective. But this isn’t
so. A roll bar on its own
“provides the bulk of the
protection and installation of a ROPS on all
tractors is an important
step toward agricultural
injury prevention,” according to the Penn
State fact sheet.
The physical properties of an ATV, with its
high center of gravity,
are similar to that of a
tractor, as are the risks.
Murphy describes how
an ATV carrying a
heavy load on a hill might jackknife, for example.
Other potentially dangerous situations include
riding with a feed sack or bale of hay on the front
rack of the ATV so that the operator’s vision is
impaired or over-weighting the front of the vehicle
so that the operator flies off if it hits an obstacle
like a groundhog hole. Putting children who are
too light for a big ATV in the driver’s seat creates
another risky situation, according to Murphy. He
also recommends that riders carry an ATV helmet with them for any chore—even something
as slow as spraying along a fence row—because
they will pick up speed when riding back to the
In spite of the efforts of people like Murphy,
vehicle safety on farms is a difficult concept to
sell. In fact, while overall agricultural safety has
improved greatly during the past thirty years,
safety relative to other hazardous industries
actually has gotten worse, Murphy said.
“There are fewer regulations in
farming and fewer resources for
farmers to call upon,” he explained, adding that re-
sources in other hazardous industries, such as mining and construction,
include those provided by large insurance companies and unions with a common interest in
reducing risk to workers. Farming also is more
risky because workers live and work in the same
place. That place, the farm, also is private property making it beyond the reach of some types
of legislation.
A paper given at the National Institute for Farm
Safety annual conference in June 2008 concludes
that ATV injury rates for children living and
working on farms have not improved “despite the
presence of warning labels placed on ATVs, recommendations by health and safety professionals
and guidelines set forth in the NAGCAT (North
American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural
Tasks) related to ATV use.” The private property
issue “is significant here,” the paper says, and it
concludes that making ATV safety an integral
part of farm safety programs is the best way to
improve matters.
Such a farm safety program is given annually at
Penn State’s Ag Progress Days, where Murphy runs
several 20-minute demonstrations of both tractor and ATV risks using vehicles operated by remote control. Both the ATV and tractor are rolled
over at a fenced-in demonstration site with slopes,
holes, and bumps to demonstrate side rollover and
an in-ground anchor point to demonstrate rear
overturns. A full-size mannequin stands in for the
operator of the vehicle. The tractor has a rollover
bar and the operator is belted to demonstrate the
value of the safety equipment. Do these safety presentations work?
At least to some extent. “I’ve had people
come up and tell me they put a rollover
bar on the tractor after seeing the demonstration,” Murphy said.
For more information, contact Dennis
Murphy, Penn State Distinguished Professor
of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, at
814-865-7157 or [email protected]
◆ |5
Get the Lead Out!
Lead Poisoning Prevention in Young Children
Are you or someone you know living in an
older home with young children? Those children
may be at-risk for lead poisoning!
Despite progress in reducing lead paint in housing, lead poisoning in young children is not a thing
of the past. According to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood lead
poisoning is considered to be the most preventable environmental disease of young children. Yet
today, an estimated 310,000 U.S. children have
elevated lead levels in their blood. As part of the
national goal of the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services to eliminate childhood lead
poisoning in the United States by 2010, Penn State
Cooperative Extension has launched a statewide
lead poisoning prevention program, Get the Lead
Out! Extension educators are the mechanism for
the delivery of education and outreach programming on childhood lead poisoning to child care
providers, preschools, elementary schools, and
health and community social service agencies at
select sites in Pennsylvania. These educators will
distribute 10,000 free lead wipe kits over the next
four years to at-risk families to test their homes
for possible lead dust. The Get the Lead Out! program was developed by Cooperative Extension in
collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department
of Health, and is funded through the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention and Housing and
Urban Development.
Lead is a highly toxic metal that was an ingredient in many household products, including
paints manufactured before 1978. The primary
source of lead exposure among children, according to the CDC, is the lead-based paint and
6 | Pennsylvania Rural Health Winter 2009
lead-contaminated dust and soil found in and
around old, deteriorating buildings. At risk are
people who live in buildings constructed before
lead paint was banned in 1978. The most common source of childhood lead poisoning is lead
dust, which is produced primarily from the decay
of lead-based oil paint and is fine enough to be
nearly imperceptible by sight, taste, and smell.
Exposure to even microscopically small amounts
of lead can cause permanent, irreversible damage
to otherwise healthy children. Children exposed
to lead, even trace amounts, can face lifelong behavior and learning problems.
The dust created from lead paint subject to constant rubbing is virtually invisible, but easily ingested by the normal, everyday actions of toddlers who
explore with their hands and then put their hands
up to their face and mouth. Parents also need to be
aware of the lead hazards accompanying the renovation or remodeling of older homes. Disturbing
painted surfaces when replacing doors, windows,
or walls can create a toxic hazard.
According to the Get the Lead Out! program
coordinator, Jacqueline Amor-Zitzelberger, the focus of this effort is to provide education and raise
awareness about this serious health issue, emphasize
the importance of screening at-risk homes, and urge
people to take steps to reduce their possible exposure to lead. Several counties are participating in the
program throughout the state: Clearfield, Jefferson,
Elk, Cameron, McKean, Potter, and Fayette counties, in addition to other sites which include Johnstown, Philadelphia, Lancaster, and Harrisburg.
Each site is working in collaboration with existing
partnerships, as well as fostering emerging joint
ventures in the community to distribute free testing
kits to eligible or high-risk families.
The do-it-yourself test kits come complete
with everything needed to collect and mail
samples to a laboratory for analysis, including a pre-paid, pre-addressed return envelope. Lab results are returned by mail
within two weeks. The results will not
only report lead exposure but also
the level of lead detected in the
home. Staff at the Department of
Health will contact those families determined to be at risk to
assist them with the next steps
they should take. Families are
encouraged to contact the
Lead Information Line
(1-800-440-LEAD) for
additional details concerning lead poisoning.
Once aware of the
risk, parents can take
preventive measures to protect
their loved ones. These are short-term, low-cost
actions called interim controls—they are not permanent but will protect a child for a short period
of time. Families should not disturb lead paint!
Removing or disturbing lead paint without equipment and precautions can make matters worse and
could cause a child to become lead poisoned. Pregnant women should never clean up lead dust since
it is harmful to the developing fetus.
Cleaning the home with a wet mop and damp
cloth rags at least once a week can significantly reduce exposure to lead dust. Use of a vacuum with a
HEPA filter and “bar beater” or “agitator” attachment is recommended for rugs and carpets. Washing hands and toys often, especially before eating,
also reduces the risk of lead poisoning. A diet rich
in calcium, vitamin C, iron, and protein, and low
in fats and oils also can help prevent the absorption of lead in the body. Families should practice
removing everyone’s shoes upon entering the
home. Contaminated dirt from exterior lead paint,
lead-based insecticides and lead pollution can be
tracked inside on shoes and with pets.
Old lead, new lead. It’s all BAD lead. Lead may
be found in other sources which may account for
as much as 30 percent of lead-poisoned children
in certain areas across the United States. Leadbased paint remains the most common source
of lead exposure for children under 6 years of
age. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued recalls on multiple products
that contain hazardous levels of lead, including
many jewelry items, children’s furniture, children’s clothing and toys. Parents can review the
current lead recall list on the CDC’s Web site
at to determine
whether the products they have purchased are safe.
Additionally, a variety of work and hobby activities and products expose adults to lead. This also
can result in lead exposure for their families. Activities that are associated with lead exposure include
indoor firing range use, home repairs, remodeling
and pottery making. “Take-home” exposures may
result when people whose jobs expose them to lead
wear their work clothes home or wash them with
the family laundry. It also may result when they
bring scrap or waste material home from work.
Although the primary focus of the Get the Lead
Out! program is helping parents identify lead dangers in the home, Cooperative Extension staff-driven outreach efforts have added greater value to the
program than as a simple vehicle for the distribution of lead testing kits. As the program’s database
grows and a clearer picture of the statewide problem emerges, the value of its findings to interagency
collaboration efforts will be an ancillary benefit.
For more information on the Get the Lead Out!
program, contact Jacqueline Amor-Zitzelberger, at
814-765-7878, ext. 5 or to [email protected] n
Together Rx Access
Improves Prescription
Access for Uninsured
In the state of Pennsylvania, more than 1.2 million residents1 do not have healthcare
coverage and lack options to pay for prescription drugs. To help those individuals without
prescription coverage access the medicines they need, leading pharmaceutical companies
sponsor the Together Rx Access® Program. This free prescription savings program helps eligible individuals and their families gain access to savings on prescription products. About
10,000 people enroll in the program every week.
Most cardholders save 25 to 40 percent2 on brand-name prescription products; more than
300 brand-name prescription products are included in the program3. Savings also are available on a wide range of generic medications. Medicines in the program include those used to
treat high cholesterol, diabetes, depression, asthma, and many other common conditions.
The Together for Rx Access® Program enrollment card is free to get and free to use. Individuals may be eligible for the program if they do not qualify for Medicare, do not have
public or private prescription drug coverage, have a household income of up to $30,000
for a single person or $60,000 for a family of four (income eligibility is adjusted for family size), and are legal residents of the United States or Puerto Rico. No documentation is
required for eligible individuals to enroll in the Together Rx Access® Program.
The card is accepted at the majority of pharmacies nationwide and in Puerto Rico.
Cardholders bring the card to their neighborhood pharmacist along with their prescription, and the savings are calculated at the pharmacy counter. Nearly 3,000 pharmacies
accept the card in Pennsylvania.
There are three easy ways to enroll:
• Visit
• Call 1-800-250-2839
• Complete a short paper application and return it by mail
DOE provides funding,
expanding PA program
State Senator Joe Scarnati presented a $900,000 check to
Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania (LHU) President
Dr. Keith Miller in September for the university’s proposed
expansion of its physician assistant program. The funding
from the State Department of Education will be used by
LHU for infrastructure and capital improvements, expanding the program into Coudersport (Charles Cole Memorial
Hospital) as well as Harrisburg (Pennsylvania State System
of Higher Education’s Dixon University Center). Pending
approval by the appropriate regulatory and accrediting agencies, LHU expects to welcome its first class at both locations
in May 2010, according to Walter Eisenhauer, physician assistant program director and department chair at LHU.
“This is quite a milestone for Lock Haven as well as
Charles Cole,” Dr. Miller said. “This is what partnership
is all about. As we move healthcare forward, we move the
economy forward. What we’re doing in Coudersport is
not much different than what we’re doing everywhere
else. I hope you’ll see us as a resource that can only expand
as we get to know each other better. This is part of our
mission and we’re delighted to be a part of this,” he said.
“I am pleased to have been able to secure funding for this
important initiative,” Scarnati said. “Without question,
this is a wonderful example of the state partnering with institutions to improve the overall economic and healthcare
climate of communities across Pennsylvania,” he said.
“Hosting the Lock Haven physician assistant program
is an interesting and exciting opportunity for our hospital
and the community,” said Ed Pitchford, president and chief
executive officer at CCMH. “Medical education programs
create a stimulating environment that will help us stay fresh
and current, while providing our physicians the opportunity to teach and mentor students who will play an important
role in our country’s healthcare delivery system. We know
from experience that the best way to confront the shortage
of healthcare professionals and avoid staff vacancy issues
here at Charles Cole is to be active in the education of those
who will provide medical care in the future. We are fortunate to have this opportunity and we appreciate the efforts
of those who have played a role in making it happen.”
The LHU physician assistant program is fully accredited
by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for
the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). For more information,
For further information, contact Janene Dunn at 814274-5392.
A Together Rx Access® Program quick start savings card also is available. Potential enrollees detach the card from a brochure and call the toll-free number to find out if they are
eligible, enroll, and instantly activate their card. To receive a supply of quick start savings
cards, contact Amy Niles, chair, Medical Relations and Advocacy, Together Rx Access® at
[email protected] For more information on the Together Rx Access® Program, visit n
State Health Facts website: accessed October 2, 2008.
Each cardholder’s savings depend on such factors as the particular drug purchased, amount purchased,
and the pharmacy where purchased. Participating companies independently set the level of savings offered
and the products included in the program. Those decisions are subject to change.
Visit for the most current list of brand-name medicines and products.
Together Rx Access® and the Together Rx Access® logo are trademarks of Together Rx Access, LLC. All other
marks are the property of their respective owners. © 2008 Together Rx Access, LLC.
State Senator Joe Scarnati (center) presented a $900,000
check to Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania (LHU) President Dr. Keith Miller (right) and Ed Pitchford (left), CEO at
Charles Cole Memorial Hospital, in September for the university’s proposed expansion of its physician assistant program. |7
Rural Health Conference
Celebrates Accomplishments,
Lays Groundwork for Future
S. William Hessert, Jr.
Innovative partnerships, ground-breaking
programs, and policy changes at both the
state and federal levels have led to significant improvements in the health status of
rural Pennsylvanians. At the same time,
however, technological advances and an
ever-changing healthcare environment continue to challenge rural advocates to develop new community, regional and statewide
partnerships and initiatives that address the
unique healthcare needs of this population.
Celebrating the success of existing efforts and
laying the groundwork for future opportunities
was the focus of the 16th Annual Pennsylvania
Rural Health Conference, which was held June
18-19 at The Penn Stater Conference Center
Hotel in State College. In addition to informing participants about state and federal healthrelated policy changes, this year’s conference
provided numerous opportunities for attendees
to share best practices and develop strategies and
partnerships for responding to the ever-changing
healthcare needs of rural citizens. Sponsors for
this year’s conference included the Pennsylvania
Department of Health, the Pennsylvania Rural
Health Association, Penn State Outreach, and
Penn State Cooperative Extension.
Participants arriving early on June 18 had the
chance to attend one of two pre-conference workshops. Denise Schlegel, supervisory instructor for
Alutiiq, led an interactive workshop which provided tips on creating “high performance” partnerships and assembling the information needed
to prepare and submit successful grant proposals.
In the second workshop, Dr. Gerald Doeksen,
regents professor and extension economist at
Oklahoma State University and director of the
National Center for Rural Health Works, highlighted health care’s critical role in the economic
development of rural communities and showed
participants how they could assess the economic
impact of their program in the community.
The conference officially kicked off with a
luncheon and welcome by Lisa Davis, director
of the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health and
Dr. Dennis Shea, professor and head of the Penn
State Department of Health Policy and Administration. During their remarks, both Davis and
Shea noted the upcoming presidential election
and the potential for health care to be one of the
defining issues during the campaign. “We now
have 47 million people in the United States who
are uninsured and the cost of health insurance
premiums are rising at four times the rate of the
cost of living,” Shea said, adding that now was
the time to “scream and scream loudly if we want
health care to be a priority in this election.”
Davis also shared information regarding two
activities being showcased at this year’s conference. For the first time, the Pennsylvania Rural
Health Conference planning committee hosted a
Graduate Student Research Paper Competition,
which encouraged students to submit results of
their original research projects on rural health
issues with a community focus. Winners of this
year’s competition who were invited to present
their posters at this year’s conference included:
• Mona Baran, from Geisinger Medical
Center (Development and Early Implementation of a Neurology Telemedicine
• Esther Hwang, from the University of
Pittsburgh (Evaluation of an Oral Health
Continuing Education Program in Head
Start Offices); and
• Gwen Manning, from Arcadia University
(Barriers to Breast Cancer Screening: A
Study of Rural Pennsylvania Women)
Davis also noted that this year’s conference
marked the conclusion of the Rural Health Care
Manager Academy, a nine-month program created by the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health
through the state’s Critical Access Hospital program, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania
Department of Health, the Penn State Office
of Economic and Workforce Development and
Penn State Management Development. This program was designed to improve the supervisory
and management skills of Critical Access and
other rural hospital staff and EMS and healthcare provider personnel. As part of the program,
participants were given the opportunity to develop and implement team-based performance
improvement projects; the fifteen teams which
participated presented the results of their projects
during the Rural Health Conference.
Davis’ and Shea’s welcoming remarks were followed by a keynote address by Dr. Richard Roberts, professor and past chair of the University of
Wisconsin’s Department of Family Medicine and
a family physician in Belleville, Wisconsin—a
rural community of 1,900 residents. During his
presentation entitled “Curing What Ails Health
Care,” Roberts stressed the importance of creating a medical “home” for all Americans which
begins with developing a relationship with a
trusted primary care provider.
“After poverty, the primary predictor of how
long [people] live is whether or not they have a
primary care provider,” Roberts said. “People do
better with primary care.”
Why do they do better? “Health care is about
more than doing stuff to people—it’s about relationships and connecting to people,” Roberts said.
“Our system has grown so complicated that there
is no ‘stranger danger’ in health care anymore—
the number of people you come in contact with is
mind boggling. But remarkably, the more doctors
you have, the poorer the outcomes.
After poverty, the primary predictor of how long [people]
live is whether or not they have a primary care provider.
People do better with primary care.
8 | Pennsylvania Rural Health Winter 2009
“Developing a relationship [with a patient],
however, transcends time and space. It allows
me to have a continuous thread of conversation
that plays day in and day out in my life and my
patients’ lives.”
Following Roberts’ keynote address, attendees had a chance to attend one of three concurrent sessions:
• John Gale, research associate for the Maine
Rural Health Research Center at the University of Southern Maine, discussed mental health issues affecting rural communities
and ways that rural healthcare systems can
address those issues most effectively;
• Barbara Bloom and Katrina Kyle from
the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s
Bureau of Health Planning and Kristen
Houser and Kristi Mattzela from the
State College-based Centre Volunteers in
Medicine described methods for increasing
access to oral health care in rural communities and provided information on the
Department of Health’s Challenge Grant
Program that has supported the development or expansion of primary and dental
care programs in the Commonwealth.
• Gary Rothrock, community programs director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development program
in Pennsylvania, provided an overview of
USDA grant and loan programs that are
available to support healthcare delivery
systems in rural Pennsylvania.
The first day of the conference closed with a
presentation by Gregory Howe, senior policy analyst for the Governor’s Office of Health Care Reform, on “Prescription for Pennsylvania”—Gov.
Ed Rendell’s initiative to make quality health care
more accessible, affordable, and cost effective for
Pennsylvanians. Howe provided several examples
of the program’s accomplishments to date, including the “Cover All Kids” insurance program; legislation expanding the scope of services provided by
physician assistants, certified registered nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, clinical nurse
specialists, and dental hygienists; ground-breaking
infection control requirements; the establishment
of a Chronic Care Commission to develop and
implement a chronic care management model; and
enactment of a smoking law ban.
Howe also discussed some of the program’s
future priorities, which include small group insurance reform and implementing PA Access to
Basic Care (ABC)—a program designed to provide affordable, basic health care for eligible uninsured adults and small businesses. Legislation
which would enact ABC has been considered by
the Senate since March 2008, Howe said.
The second day of the conference began with a
stirring presentation by Dr. Zane Gates, founder
of the Gloria Gates Memorial Foundation—an
after-school program for disadvantaged 4- to
12-year olds—and medical director of a free
healthcare clinic located in Altoona. Gates took
the audience on a personal and professional journey that explained his motivation for becoming
a healthcare provider—from growing up in a
housing project in Altoona, to graduating from
the University of Pittsburgh with pharmacy and
medical degrees, to becoming a father and raising
three children.
Gates noted that the biggest inspiration behind
his creating the Gloria Gates Memorial Foundation is the woman for whom it was named—his
mother. “We were pulling furniture from a garbage can and eating welfare cheese when I was
young, but I never felt poor,” he shared. “That
was because of my mother—she was just a simple
woman with an eighth grade education who inspired me to do great things. She always thought
I could help people and she taught me that the
greatest impact you can have in life is changing
other people’s lives.”
Through the Gloria Gates Memorial Foundation, Gates hopes he can lay the groundwork
for a promising future for kids growing up in
similar circumstances. “We want to teach 4- to
12-year old children how to dream,” he said.
“We want them to know that if they can make
it out of that [high-risk] environment, they can
do great things.”
Gates says one of the biggest challenges facing
society today is reclaiming a sense of community.
“We’ve become a ‘me’ society—we’ve lost our
sense of community and we need to get it back,”
he said. “And we need to start with the children.
We need to set up some sort of system that shows
them there are rewards for giving back to the
community and for being ‘the common man.’”
Gates’ presentation was followed by brunch and
remarks by Pennsylvania Department of Health
Deputy Secretary for Health Planning and Assessment Michael Huff, RN, who highlighted the
department’s ongoing efforts to recruit and retain
healthcare providers in rural and underserved areas—particularly increasing the amount of funding provided to practitioners for repaying student
loans in return for two additional years of service
and possibly creating a similar program for nursing professionals.
“There have been successes, but there is always more work for us to do,” Deputy Secretary Huff said.
Huff also assisted with the presentation of
the annual Pennsylvania Rural Health Awards
(please see the corresponding article on page 10
for a description of the year’s award recipients).
The conference closed with a presentation by
Dr. Terry Madonna, professor and director of the
Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin
and Marshall College, on the 2008 presidential
election and the impact it has had and will have
on Pennsylvania. Madonna predicts that this
year’s election could be one of the most important
elections in the past 100 years.
“Some elections are more important than other
elections because they define or confirm the direction that our country is taking,” Madonna said.
“The 1932 election during the Great Depression,
for example, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt unveiled the New Deal, or the 1980 election when
Ronald Regan made conservatism a major political
force. The debate about Iraq and national security,
along with our growing domestic issues, make the
stakes in this election very, very high.”
Given the concerns that Americans have
about today’s economy, this year’s election will
spark great debate among the candidates on addressing those concerns. “And health care will
definitely be part of that debate,” he said.
In terms of healthcare platforms, Madonna
indicated that John McCain and Barack Obama
“both say they would provide coverage for those
who don’t have it. They just have radically different approaches to providing it,” with Obama advocating some sort of basic coverage and McCain
preferring a market-driven system.
Whatever the final outcome may be, Madonna
said one thing is for sure: “This is the year that we
should definitely expect the unexpected.”
Planning is already underway for the 2009
conference, which is slated to take place June
2-3 at the same location. Details will be forthcoming. n |9
Pennsylvania Office
of Rural Health
Honors 2008 State
Rural Health Award
A community-minded mother, a small town
dentist, a dedicated healthcare administrator, a retiring U.S. Congressman, a statewide family fitness program and a local fire
department were the 2008 recipients of the
Pennsylvania Rural Health Award.
The Pennsylvania Rural Health Awards are
presented each year to select individuals and/or
organizations that have significantly enhanced
the health and well-being of rural Pennsylvanians. The 2008 awards were presented on June
19 in conjunction with the 16th annual Pennsylvania Rural Health Conference, which was
held at The Penn State Conference Center Hotel
in State College; Pennsylvania. Department of
Health Deputy Secretary for Health Planning
and Assessment Michael Huff, RN, assisted with
this year’s presentation.
Gary Sauers, administrative director for the
Broad Top Area Medical Center (Huntingdon
County), was named 2008 Community Rural
Health Leader of the Year. A year ago, ongoing
fiscal problems had this federally qualified health
center with a patient population of nearly 7,000
on the brink of closing; however, thanks to Sauers’ dedicated leadership, that is no longer the case.
Within six months of his arrival, Sauers implemented fiscal and operational procedures that reduced
debt, brought all bills to “current” status, and signif-
icantly improved patient and employee satisfaction
scores. The number of new and recurring visitors
to the center also increased during the past year—
meaning that instead of closing its doors, Sauers’
work has allowed the center to provide much-needed healthcare services to an even greater percentage
of this underserved community.
Melisa Engel, a self-described “mom on a mission” from Williamsport (Lycoming County),
was one of the two recipients of this year’s 2008
Rural Health Hero of the Year award. Since
learning ten years ago that her twin daughters
had moderate to severe hearing loss, Engel has
researched, lobbied for, and launched a host of
services designed to help her daughters and hundreds of other hearing-impaired Pennsylvania
children. Engel is the founder of VOICES (Value
Our Innocent Children’s Ears & Speech), a statewide organization that supports universal hearing
screenings and services for children who are deaf
or hard of hearing. She also is the contact for the
state chapter of Hands & Voices, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting deaf/
hard-of-hearing children, their families, and the
professionals who serve them; and a regional contact for Parent-to-Parent of Pennsylvania, which
matches families with other families of children
with special needs or disabilities. Engel has been
appointed to several boards and task forces, including the Educational Resources for Children
10 | Pennsylvania Rural Health Winter 2009
with Hearing Loss advisory board by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell; the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency; the Center for Disease
Control and Prevention’s Early Hearing Detection and Intervention ad hoc group; and several
county organizations.
Dr. David Hajel, a dentist practicing in
Somerset (Somerset County), also received the
2008 Rural Health Hero of the Year award.
Hajel was honored for his work with the Somerset County Head Start, which requires all
children enrolled in the program to have a dental exam. Previously, Somerset County Head
Start experienced significant problems finding
dentists who would work with the preschoolage children, accept the low-income families’
insurance and deal with the logistical issues of
families making and/or keeping appointments.
Enter Dr. Hajel, who has provided basic dental
care to more than 400 children enrolled in the
Head Start program over the past three years.
He and his staff have offered summer dental
screenings, provided screenings in the classroom, and participated in events such as the
Day for Celebrating Young Children. More
importantly, Dr. Hajel has changed the perception that many children and their families had
about the dentist—thanks to his calm and patient style, many parents who were concerned
about taking their children to the dentist now
have the confidence to do so.
The Family Fitness Program, an afterschool program created by Penn State Cooperative Extension and currently offered in
twenty-two Pennsylvania counties, received
one of this year’s two Rural Health Program
of the Year awards. Designed for children
between the ages of 8 and 12, the nine-week
program helps children who are overweight or
at risk of becoming overweight make healthier
food choices and increase their physical activity. Parents of the children enrolled in the program attend five separate meetings (three with
their child) so they can receive the information,
skills and motivational guidance that leads to
improved food choices, physical activity, and
family support for their children. Data collected
from the first three years of this research-based
program showed significant improvement in
the children’s healthy eating behaviors (greater
consumption of whole grains, fruits and vegetables; less consumption of high-fat, high-sugar
foods and drinks); increased physical activity
among children and families; improved communication and goal-setting among families
regarding healthy eating; and more time planning and preparing meals together.
2007-08 Rural Health
Care Manager
Academy Awards
The Muncy Valley Hospital team took first place with their
“Busy Bees” project.
Early Warning for the Deaf and Hard of
Hearing, a program established by the City of
Williamsport’s Bureau of Fire, in partnership
with other Lycoming County fire departments,
also received the Rural Health Program of
the Year Award. This program was created to
enhance the fire safety of homes of deaf and
hard of hearing residents in Lycoming County
by securing and installing wireless smoke detector systems that not only emit sounds but
also send a signal to a receiver unit that sets
off a strobe and a bed shaker. Funded solely by
private donations, the program gained national attention in 2007 when the Safer Housing
Foundation donated 100 strobe smoke detectors to the program. Articles about the program have appeared in various magazines for
the deaf and organizations across the country
have contacted the Bureau of Fire to learn how
the program can be replicated in other areas.
The Pennsylvania Fire Commission currently is
exploring the possibility of extending the program statewide and seeking funds to purchase
and stockpile smoke detectors.
PORH also announced that it would present retiring U.S. Rep. John Peterson (R-5th
District) with a special Significant Contributions to Rural Health Care Award. For the
past thirty years, Peterson has been one of the
leading voices in the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the U.S. Congress on rural healthcare, economic development, and education.
He serves as co-chair of the Congressional
Rural Caucus, a bipartisan coalition of more
than 140 members of Congress committed to
strengthening and revitalizing rural communities across America. Peterson received his award
at a later date.
The Endless Mountains Health System Team received second
place for their “Organizational Budget Initiative” project.
The Tyrone Hospital Team took third place with their
“RPM Departmental Scorecards” project.
w w w . p o r h . p s u . e d u | 11
Talking Books
by Alan Finnecy
When Alice Greenwood was pronounced
legally blind in 2001 due to macular degeneration—the leading cause of central vision
loss in older adults—she thought she’d
have to give up reading. “I always loved to
read, it’s one of my favorite activities,” she
says. Her local library in Maryland, where
she lived at the time, helped her sign up to
receive books on tape, or “talking books”
as they’re sometimes called. “In a matter of
weeks, I had a tape player and tapes from
some of my favorite authors,” Greenwood,
83, recalls. “When that player went, I sent it
back and they sent a new one.”
In early 2003, Greenwood moved to Chambersburg, a town of nearly 18,000 in Franklin County
southwest of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to live with
family. Her Maryland library arranged a transfer
and several days after moving into her new home,
she received her first tapes and a new recorder from
the Carnegie Library for the Blind and Physically
Handicapped in Pittsburgh, about 165 miles to the
west. Since then, Greenwood receives on average
seven books on tape every other week. “It doesn’t
cost me a penny,” she says. “They provide the player
and the postage for the tapes is paid both ways.”
The Carnegie Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped has provided books for readers
like Greenwood since 1907, starting with Braille
books. As technology advanced, the library’s offerings increased to include audio books, large print
books, recorded magazines, and described videos
of popular movies and documentaries. With more
than 60,000 books on tape and 12,000 large print
books, the library currently serves about 10,000
readers in thirty-six western Pennsylvania counties.
The Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in Philadelphia serves the remaining thirtyone counties in the eastern half of Pennsylvania.
Kathleen Kappel, director of the Carnegie Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped,
points out that 65 percent of their readers are seniors who are not completely blind but have visual impairments due to age-related conditions like
diabetes or macular degeneration. Some readers
have no visual problems but have difficulty holding books or turning pages because of arthritis or
multiple sclerosis. “The only requirement to get
talking books from the library is if you are unable to read standard size print or unable to hold a
book or turn pages,” Kappel says.
Jimmy St. Clair’s cerebral palsy limits his ability to hold a book or turn pages. He first learned
of the library from a teacher in 1968. Now fifty-four and living with his parents in Indiana
County, sixty miles northeast of Pittsburgh, St.
Clair orders mysteries from the library and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and QST, a widely
read amateur radio journal.
While St. Clair usually sends in a form with his
selections, library patrons also can order books online or with Voice Activated Public Access Catalog,
known as “Vo-PAC,” an interactive program via
telephone that is private and available at all times.
During normal library hours, book selectors are
available to personally help readers with their selections. “Many of our patrons prefer to call the library
rather than ordering books online,” says Kappel.
“They get to know the book selectors well and often
have interesting book discussions with them.”
Ada Schrock, a retired teacher in Somerset
County, often calls the library to check for specific titles. “Friends will recommend a particular
12 | Pennsylvania Rural Health Winter 2009
book and I’ll call the library to see if that book
is available on tape yet,” Schrock explains. The
book selectors can tell her if a title is available
or if she’s read it before. Schrock, who likes biographies, mysteries, and travel books, says she
sometimes re-listens to favorite books. “I marvel
at the technology they have and I’m so grateful
for the Carnegie Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.” Schrock, who lives with her
sister in a town with a population of less than
1,000 people, has used the library service for
more than twelve years.
To receive books or magazines on tape, potential
users need only complete an application and obtain
the signature of an optometrist, family doctor, social worker, or librarian. The service is available to
anyone in Pennsylvania’s sixty-seven counties who
cannot read standard size print—due to a visual
impairment—or is unable to hold a book or turn
pages because of a physical impairment.
The Carnegie Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped serves eligible residents in the
following counties: Adams, Allegheny, Armstrong,
Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Fayette, Forest, Franklin, Fulton,
Greene, Huntingdon, Indiana, Jefferson, Juniata,
Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Mifflin, Potter, Somerset, Tioga, Venango, Warren, Washington, and
Westmoreland. For more information, call the library at 800-242-0586 or e-mail them at [email protected] Information is also available at:
The Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in Philadelphia serves counties in eastern
Pennsylvania. For more information call 800-2221754 or visit n
Message from the department of health
The following article was taken from an address given by Michael
Huff, R.N., Deputy Secretary for Health Planning and Assessment,
Pennsylvania Department of Health, at the Pennsylvania Rural Health
Conference on June 18, 2008.
The mission of the Pennsylvania Department of Health is promoting healthy lifestyles, preventing injury, and disease, and assuring
the safe delivery of quality healthcare to all citizens of the Commonwealth. The Department joins with the Pennsylvania Office of
Rural Health in advocating for access to quality healthcare for the nearly 4 million citizens who live in rural communities throughout
Access to quality healthcare is dependant upon a number of factors. Not the least of these is the adequate supply of healthcare
practitioners, and the availability, accessibility, and affordability of health care services.
Health Professional Shortage Areas:
The Department of Health, Bureau of Health Planning, works cooperatively with the federal Health Services Resources Administration (HRSA) in determining what areas in Pennsylvania meet the criteria for the federal designation of Health Professional Shortage Areas. These shortage areas qualify for assistance to increase access to care.
In Pennsylvania, there are over 1.5 million people who are currently living in areas that have been designated by the federal government as Primary Care or Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas. Nearly half of these people live in rural Pennsylvania.
Assistance to Increase Access to Care:
Since 1993, the Department has administered the Community Primary Care Challenge Grant Program. This program provides
an annual grant opportunity for non-profit and community-based organizations to expand their capacity to provide primary medical
and dental care services. Recipients of these grants have established clinics and have hired doctors, dentists, and other providers to
increase access to care. Over 100 Challenge Grants have been awarded since 1993. Forty-five percent of these were awarded to communities in rural areas.
Working collaboratively with the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health, the Department supports the Pennsylvania Rural Critical
Access Hospital Program. This program provides clinical, operational, and quality improvement support for Pennsylvania’s thirteen
rural Critical Access Hospitals.
The Pennsylvania Loan Repayment Program is an incentive for health care providers to seek employment in underserved areas. This
program offers loan repayment for primary care doctors, certified nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, physician assistants,
and general dentists, working in an underserved Pennsylvania community. This program has placed nearly 300 practitioners in underserved areas, with over 150 in rural Pennsylvania.
The federal J-1 Visa Waiver Program enables the Department to place up to thirty foreign physicians each year in Pennsylvania’s
most medically needy areas. Over 400 foreign physicians have served Pennsylvania’s underserved communities since 1991, over 200
of these in rural communities.
Improving the health status of Commonwealth citizens and ensuring access to quality healthcare is a priority of the Pennsylvania
Department of Health. The Department’s efforts to clearly identify those areas in the Commonwealth that do not have access to
health care because of a lack of adequate providers or services is a continual goal. Developing and expanding programs that increase
access to health care for people who are often overlooked in the system, are among the Department’s top priorities. The Department
works to have an impact on the health status of rural and underserved Pennsylvania citizens. That work is carried out in partnership—
in partnership with local community members and organizations, in partnership with federal and state agencies, associations, and
offices such as the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health.
w w w . p o r h . p s u . e d u | 13
Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health
The Pennsylvania State University
202 Beecher-Dock House
University Park, PA 16802-2315
Working to Enhance the Health Status of Rural Pennsylvanians
Calendar of Upcoming events
January 18 - 21, 2009
22nd Annual Rural Health Care Leadership
American Hospital Association
Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort, Phoenix, AZ
For more information, contact Connie Lang at [email protected]
January 26 - 28, 2009
Rural Health Policy Institute
National Rural Health Association
Capital Hilton, Washington, DC
For more information call 816-756-3140 or [email protected]
February 6, 2009
Give Kids a Smile Day
American Dental Association, Nationwide
For more information, contact: [email protected]
March 24-25, 2009
Migrant and Immigrant Health in Rural Pennsylvania
Eden Resort Inn and Suites, Lancaster, PA
For more information, contact Terri Klinefelter at 814-863-8214 or [email protected]
June 2-3, 2009
17th Annual Pennsylvania Rural Health Conference
Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, State College, PA
For more information, contact Terri Klinefelter at 814-863-8214 or [email protected]